If you’re a startup or business looking to drive above average growth, you may have come across the phrase “growth hacking”. In order to drive growth, you need to examine the causes for your current business growth and amplify them in order to supercharge your business. In this article, we explain exactly what growth hacking is, who it is relevant for and we cover some of the tactics that can be applied to this relatively new area of marketing.
What is growth hacking?
Growth hacking refers to a series of marketing tactics that all focus on the objective of driving growth. It can be argued that all marketing tactics are in place to drive growth but actually, when you take a closer look the usual marketing tactics sustain business; they don’t necessarily try to make it bigger or drive direct conversion metrics. For those looking to specifically drive growth – and to drive it quickly – marketing activity is focused on Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue.
The AARRR funnel is very similar to the typical digital marketing conversion funnel that most businesses reference or use for performance marketing goals. You might be thinking that “growth hacking” is just another buzzword that implies more urgency but the key to distinguish growth hacking from other forms of marketing is the implied analytical mindset that all activity is focused very specifically on incremental, quantifiable, efficiencies that drive growth.
For example, you could measure growth by:
- Increasing blog traffic by 20% by the end of the quarter.
- Generate 150 leads from social media or an email campaign in the next month.
- Increase site content creation by 30% YOY
- Gain 10,000 new monthly visitors from organic search
Is growth hacking the same as digital marketing?
Growth hacking and digital marketing are intrinsically linked. Unlike outdoor advertising or print media, digital provides the opportunity for direct action just one click away. It can also provide black and white data that shows whether something has or hasn’t worked. In other words, almost all marketing has become a form of growth hacking or performance media.
The granular level of media targeting, relatively low-cost production value of creative and the speed at which advertising can be deployed all means that digital is the best channel for driving quick and efficient growth.
When charged with the responsibility of growth hacking, clear targets and timelines need to be established. Growth hacking centres on quantifiable goals, with constant test-refine-reapply analysis applied. In theory, this is what should be applied in digital marketing but often companies do not allocate resources to constantly optimise results.
Who should focus on growth hacking tactics?
Anyone looking to increase the size and scale of their business should prioritise growth hacking tactics but the phrase tends to be referred to by startups, rather than established businesses, as they require market share and a sales pipeline more urgently. Many businesses simply do not have the time, processes or funds to set aside the time to truly analyse what it will take to increase a customer base while driving efficiency with the Cost Per Acquisition. It’s more than throwing money at a campaign, it’s ensuring your approach achieves the following:
- Sustainable, scalable growth
- Copious testing, continual tweaking and iteration of the product/sales/marketing strategy
- All teams in your company working as one system to increase growth
To conclude, if you’re looking at driving direct action from a media format, to increase efficiencies in your PPC or SEO strategy, to get a higher retention rate in a subscription model or all of the above; then you’re looking at applying growth hacking tactics.
Essentially, growth hacking relates to applying a constant “test and learn” approach to digital marketing. Creating a hypothesis that changes one thing will equate to an improvement – you trial the hypothesis and see if it worked either in an A/B test or using a CRO framework. If it did, you do more of that action. If it didn’t, then you don’t pursue that action any further.
When we partner with a business, we often find that we’re applying growth hacking tactics without labelling them as such. The key to distinguish growth hacking from other forms of marketing is the mindset that everything is focused on constant incremental efficiencies that drive growth.